I stood in the
hospital emergency room with my mother, the ER doctor
and the social worker.
My mother and I brought my 91-year-old
grandfather in just a few hours earlier.
The next few words spoken by the social worker
immediately jerked me back seven years to the night my
father passed away.
The same hospital, the same little group: my mom,
and I with two healthcare professionals and the very
same question, “Does he have a Living Will?”
I know the
implication of these words was not lost on my mother
either. My Dad was literally on his deathbed, having
battled Multiple Myeloma for the previous year and a
half. He made his wishes about his end of life decision
known, but we could never actually face seeing them
become real on paper. Somehow, those papers were never
signed. However, I slipped a copy into my back pocket,
finally realizing that perhaps we would need to face the
inevitable only hours before his passing. My mother came
to a similar realization. She asked me if I knew where
we could find a copy of his living will. I’ll
never forget the expression on her face when I produced
the papers on the spot. I still don’t know if it was
surprise or horror. Perhaps a combination of the
two. She signed as my father’s power of attorney and
perhaps realizing that the last piece was in place for
his departure, my father passed away within the hour.
So, you would think
that seven years later, we, of all people, would be
prepared to answer that same question.
After having created a magazine for caregivers, after
convincing people through national television and radio
shows across the nation to have living wills in place
for themselves and their loved ones, after being
caregivers for my grandparents for the past four years,
you’d think we would be prepared. You would think
that we would have microfiche copies of my grandfather’s
living will in each of our wallets. You’d think
that the papers would have been signed years ago, since,
not unlike my father my grandfather had also let his
wishes regarding his end of life be known.
The truth is, we
looked at each other as if the past seven year gap in
time was mere minutes and we suffered the same agony we
suffered all those years ago. Thankfully, we
didn’t need the papers, my grandfather is doing well.
If I can wish
anything beyond health and happiness for you and your
loved ones, it is that you take the time to have your
loved one’s Living Will, Healthcare Surrogate and DNR
(Do Not Resuscitate) wishes legally represented.
And for the sake of your loved ones, fill out these
forms for yourself, as well. Then, hopefully, all
of your déjà vu’s will be sweet ones.
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